Title: The Garden of Eden
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Genre: Realist fiction
Read it if: You want a romance that’s not very romantic
“You’ll ache. And you’re going to love it. It will crush you. And you’re still going to love all of it. Doesn’t it sound lovely beyond belief?”
I get that not everyone is into Hemingway’s style: short, choppy, sometimes barren. But that’s what draws me to him – there’s a certain brevity, a spareness to his writing that lets you get down to the core of the matter instantly while also not revealing everything in one go.
There’s also the fact that his novels are always realistic, things that could happen to anyone, and they’re written in that stream-of-consciousness way that makes you feel like you’re experiencing it firsthand. Hemingway delves deep into his mind (and experiences with others) to craft something so raw and realistic that you feel like you’ve lived his story in some part of your life.
And The Garden of Eden is no different. Set in the French Riviera, we follow a writer and his wife as they move languidly from place to place while he finishes his novel. During this time, they meet a woman they both develop feelings for, which prompts a series of events, dangerous and erotic, that lead to the dissolution of their relationship.
What I like most about this one, above any of his others, is that it felt specific to me, though I expect this was due to the fact that one of the main character’s names is Catherine and she falls in love with a woman she meets in France. Other than that, The Garden of Eden is important to me merely because I read it at a specific time in my life that it had a significant impact – without those exact conditions in place, I likely wouldn’t feel much at all for it. But alas, looking at the cover will always yank me back to a snowy, bleak January when everything seemed darker than it was. And I can appreciate it all the more because I’m no longer in that place.